The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pretty aptly named for what it does: protects the world around us from the destructive tendencies of man—most of which are often a result of our trying to make life easier! It’s surprising to learn just how many everyday products we rely on are actually regulated by the EPA and our refrigeration is one of them.
The EPAs regulation of refrigeration gasses goes all the way back to 1987, with something called the Montreal Protocol. In layman’s terms, the Montreal Protocol is simply an agreement that set the tone for a worldwide phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a type of emission that’s been proven to deplete the ozone layer, alongside hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which also became a focus of the Montreal Protocol in 1992. Together, these two emissions are the one-two punch of ozone depletion on a grand scale.
Now, among CFCs and HCFCs, there are a number of agents that cause and define the types and complexities of these emissions. In the world of refrigeration, HCFC-22 is perhaps the most prevalent of these, since it has been a longstanding option for residential heat pumps and AC systems since the mid-1970s. And, unfortunately, HCFC-22 has done a world of damage to our ozone layer.
In an effort to dramatically reduce the prevalence of HCFC-22 emissions in our world today, steps are being made to phase this hydrochlorofluorocarbon out in favor of better alternatives, such as R-410A and R-407C, which provide many of the same capabilities as HCFC-22, without the ozone-eating byproducts that have done so much damage in the past.
In addition to stemming the use of HCFC-22 in modern heating and AC systems, new models and installations are already being formatted to do away with this refrigerant gas in favor of the alternative options listed above. What this means for many home and business owners is that any new units installed today will already be outfitted to combat relentless HCFC-22 dispersal.
What happens if you need to convert an old heating or cooling unit to the R-410A and R-407C refrigerant options, but still have a system outfitted for HCFC-22? Thanks to modern technologies and new commercial refrigeration parts in Florida, compressors and other peripheral components can be retrofitted to optimize your existing system.
Now, it’s not always easy to tell what kind of refrigerant your system is using and what kind of emissions it’s producing—often, an HVAC professional will need to assess your system to determine it. One new implementation that is making it easier, however, is the addition of EnergyStar labels to modernized heating and cooling units. Today, units with an EnergyStar label can be considered already transitioned over to acceptable refrigerant options.
It’s not always easy to understand the science of emissions and the complexity of commercial refrigeration parts in Florida—but what is easy to understand is the need for constant improvement and innovation. Speak to your HVAC professional today about whether or not your systems are performing up to today’s expectations of minimized greenhouse gas emissions.